Understanding What Those Eco Words Mean!

Since the increase in eco-friendly products becoming readily available, we’ve sadly noticed a lot of companies and brands “green washing” which in other words means suggesting products are eco-friendly when that’s not technically always the case.  

To make things easier for you, we’ve broken down all those eco words you’ll find on our products so you can understand which product is right for you! 

Explaing The Type Of Product And How It Breaks Down: 

BiodegradableBiodegradable is the process of materials breaking down into smaller pieces over any period of time when exposed to living things such as bacteria and fungi. Technically, most things are biodegradable, even plastic!

However, if you see a Pattersons product being advertised as biodegradable you can assume the product will break down quicker than traditional plastic. 

Please be aware that if some biodegradable plastics (such as biodegradable bin bags) end up at the landfill, they will release methane, a greenhouse gas with a warming capacity 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. 

Did you know a shed is technically biodegradable even though it will last years? Don’t assume a product’s eco-friendly, ask us if you’re unsure!

DegradableA plastic product that has had chemicals added to it to help the product break down into micro plastics quicker than usual. Unlike biodegradable plastic, degradable plastic will break down in a landfill without producing harmful greenhouse gases.

Oxo-Biodegradable/Oxo-DegradableA conventional plastic mixed with a chemical addictive in order to create micro-plastics. Unlike biodegradable and degradable plastics, these products do not break down at molecular or polymer level.

Compostable or Compostable BiodegradableA product made from plant based materials that will, when sent to a commercial composting facility, break down to create compost.

Bio-PlasticsA type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than petroleum.

PLA - Polylactic acid (PLA) is a product made from plant based materials such as corn starch which will break down to create compost if in the correct conditions.  

CPLA - Polylactide aliphatic copolymer (CPLA) is a product made of plant based materials that are compostable in the right conditions, however CPLA is stronger and more heat resistant that PLA.

BagasseA material made from recycled sugarcane, a renewable resource. It is completely compostable in the right conditions.

Bagasse is great for hot food as it allows condensation to escape yet still keep the food hot. You can put it in the microwave and fridge too!

BambooNot just a panda’s favourite food, bamboo grows at one of the quickest rates in the world! It’s naturally strong, hard and water-resistant making it a great material.

Renewable ResourcesA natural resource that can be used repeatedly and replaced naturally such as wind, coal, water, sunlight and plants.

What Happenns To The Product After You Use It? 

RecyclableInstead of going to the landfill, you can recycle this product to create something else.  

Re-usableInstead of throwing the product away, it can be used over and over again.

Compost / Compostable Something that will turn into a fertiliser for growing plants.

LandfillAlso known as a “tip”. A place when rubbish and waste is buried.

Commercial or Industrial Composting & Commercial or Industrial Compost FacilityA place where food waste and compostable products can be sent to be made into compost correctly. Most compostable products will need to go here to be made into compost.

Micro Plastics - Plastic that has broken down into tiny pieces of plastic that are not visible to us humans but can still have a negative impact on sea life and nature. 

Other Eco Words That Might Be Handy To know: 

Sustainable and sustainability - In environmental terms, sustainable and sustainability is used to define something that will not be harmful and will support long term eco-friendly benefits.  

Carbon FootprintThe volume of carbon dioxide released into the air as a result of someone or something.  

Eco-ConsciousHaving an awareness and knowledge of the negative or positive effects your individual actions have on the planet.

Eco-FriendlyUsually used to describe a product, process or action that has a positive effect or on the environment in some way.

Greenhouse Gas – A gas that absorbs infrared radiation (IR) and radiates heat in all directions. The greenhouse effect is global warming caused by greenhouse gases.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Q. What's the difference between biodegradable, degradable and compostable products? 

Biodegradable is the process in which a product breaks down. A biodegradable product is technically ANY product that will eventually break down into small pieces such as wood, paper, stone, plastic and more. A degradable product is a plastic product with added chemicals to help the product break down quicker than traditional plastic where as a compostable product is a product made from plant based materials. When in a commercial composting unit or during home composting, the product will break down to become plant fertiliser and at a much faster rate than any non-plant-based biodegradable or degradable product would. 

Q. How long does it take a biodegradable, degradable or compostable product to break down? 

There is no guaranteed time line as it all depends on the product, what it's made of and how it is disposed of. 

Q. What is the most eco-friendly option between biodegradable, degradable and compostable? 

In depends on a multitude of factors. For example, you may think a glass bottle is an eco alternative to plastic bottles but we forget that glass takes years to berak down too and is not very eco-friendly to make. Paper straws are a great alternative to plastic straws, but if they're travelling from China, that's not very eco-friendly either. As a rule of thumb we usually say compostable products are the most eco-friendly as they're made from renewable natural resources and break down 100% and at a much faster rate than biodegradable and degradable products (epseically as our's are all made in the UK) but we recommend always asking us first! 

Q. Are eco-friendly cleaners as good as regular cleaners? 

Of course it depends what products you buy, but you can guarantee all of our eco-cleaners are just as effective as traditional cleaners but they're much kinder to the envionment! 

If you have any questions about our eco cleaning products or eco catering disposables or if you're unsure on if a product is eco-friendly or which product is best for you and your business, don't hesitate to ask us! Contact our friendly team on 0117 934 1270 or email hello@Pattersons.co.uk

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